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Urgent need for aid for Christian refugees in Lebanon

27 July 2006

Media reports indicate that some 800,000 people have been displaced due to the current fighting in Lebanon. Most are internally displaced, some 200,000 have found refuge in Syria, and a very few have managed to flee to Cyprus and further afield.Reports from Lebanon show a desperate situation as the displaced lack the most basic needs. The authorities do not seem to be able to cope with the crisis, and were seemingly organisationally and mentally unprepared for it. They clamour for help from international agencies like the UN and Western governments and NGOs. Of course getting aid into the south where the fighting still goes on is very difficult.

Christians in need, but also helping

Among the displaced are also many Christians who had to leave the areas where the fighting and bombing are most intense. Many have had their homes and possessions destroyed and loved ones killed. Some have been directly affected by air-strikes. One Christian leader known to Barnabas Fund had his house badly damaged.

Many Lebanese Christians are heartbroken by the devastation they now see around them, especially in places like south Lebanon, Tyre and southern Beirut. It is difficult for them to understand why God allows it. Some see the situation in Biblical terms of destruction, as one Christian wrote, slightly amending a Bible verse:

"Our country is desolate, our cities are burned with fire; our land, strangers devour it in our presence . . . (Isaiah 1:7).

These are the scenes in our Lebanon today: death, destruction, desolation and smoke . . . . desperate cries echoing through the streets where the homeless and weary are left to wander . . . loud lamentation of women and children over their loved ones whose remnants are left under the ruins of buildings and home. The current disaster places the Lebanese believers at a crossroads: Either we willingly work to lift up the weak and the weary, endangering our lives to save others, or we can chose to run and hide, hunkering down until this tornado passes by."

We are encouraged by the many Christians who have not given in to the temptations of nursing feelings of hatred and revenge, or of seeking to find someone to blame, but are following Christ's example of engaging in loving practical helping and serving of those in dire need around them.

Our Syrian partner records the boldness of one Christian family deciding to stay in the danger zone to help those in need:

Another Christian family from the south, near Marj'Ayoun, after repeated attacks by Israeli troops, jets and rockets, lost its possessions and was urged to leave the area, but because of their faith, the husband and family stayed faithful and remained there till this date, and he said on the phone to us: “by our stay, we have to make a difference by being different from the others, all our surroundings are our field to help, witness and support them while passing this catastrophic period of time”. We’ve encouraged them to come over avoiding unexpected attacks from the enemy, but he replied: “I should stay with my people and congregation” - he pastors a church - “and they need my presence”.

He also related the story of a refugee family from south Lebanon who made it to Syria:

Today three Christian families contacted us coming over from Gana in the south which has been heavily attacked in the last six days. They travelled from Gana to Aleppo via Tartus. They couldn’t sleep over the last six days from the continuous attacks and bombing.

Local partners best set to help

As Christians we are called upon to help especially our suffering and needy brothers and sisters. This is an emergency situation and we have responded immediately with practical aid through Barnabas Fund’s Lebanese and Syrian Christian partners who are doing an excellent job on the ground. Aid via local partners is the fastest and most effective method of help. The UN and large international aid agencies face difficulties getting their supplies to the neediest areas. Local Christian groups on the ground are already in place and have the motivation to assist brothers and sisters in need. They are desperate however for more resources.

Barnabas aid to date

Barnabas Fund has so far sent £10,000 to help 100 Christian refugee families in Lebanon and another £5,000 to help those in Syria.

  • Beneficiaries are Christian families who have been displaced as a result of the current war situation which Lebanon found itself in over ten days ago. The funds provided these families with such basic needs as food, water, medicine and hygiene products.

  • Barnabas Fund’s timely grant, along with others, also enabled the provision of support for a number of families who have lost their source of income due to the current conflict.

Urgent plea for your help

The need is huge and escalating. The actual cost of supporting these families was higher than anticipated as their needs are so great. It appears that the conflict is not going to end soon, so more support is urgently needed.

We appreciate your donations for Christian refugees from the Lebanon conflict. Please click this link [Link] to donate online using our secure server. Please quote project reference 27-631 when sending your gift.